Carnival Corporation announced they would be adding Starlink WiFi to their ships – resulting in ultra-fast internet across nine cruise lines and nearly 100 ships.
The company will add it to Princess Cruises, Holland America, Seabourn, P&O Cruises Australia, P&O Cruises UK, Costa Cruises as well as Cunard.
“For many of our guests, it has become more and more important to maintain the type of connectivity at sea that they’ve become accustomed to at home, and of course to share the unforgettable experiences of their cruise with friends and family,” said Josh Weinstein, CEO of Carnival Corporation.
“We are in the business of delivering happiness, and Starlink makes it as easy as possible for our guests to share all their great moments and memories, giving them even more joy out of their cruise vacation.”
Starlink’s promise is that cruisers at sea will have a similar WiFi experience that they will have on land and this includes the ability to be able to share photos and videos as well as stream movies and live sporting events
“The added bandwidth will give the brands the capabilities and flexibility to introduce new guest services and features, as well as help boost operational functions like onboard equipment monitoring and real-time communications between ship and shore teams. And importantly, adding Starlink’s innovative technology to the company’s existing connectivity platform will also help our amazing crew stay in touch with friends and loved ones,” said Mr Weinstein.
Other lines like Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea have also rolled out Elon Musk’s Starlink technology across their ships.
5 tips on using cruise ship WiFi
- Before booking a cruise, check which lines offer promotions that includes basic WiFi. If you can’t get a good deal, do not purchase your internet onboard the ship. It will be less expensive to purchase the WiFi plan before you sail. Buying a package rate is a better deal than the daily rate.
- Keep your phone on airplane mode so when you are on the ship, you can avoid roaming charges.
- Ask the staff where the best places on the ship have free WiFi in port. Some cruise lines onboard, have free WiFi spots like a restuarant, bar or mall area.
- Download apps, movies and music before you sail. Be prepared on sea days that the internet will be slow so you can catch up and binge on your favorite shows without the hassle of waiting for streaming services to buffer.
- When you want to upload photos, wait on port days when the ship’s WiFi service has less people connected. Early morning and late at night when people are sleeping is also a good time to get a faster connection.
What types of WiFi plans can I purchase on a cruise line?
Staying connected is more important than ever for many cruisers, especially those embarking on longer voyages. Most cruise lines have different plans so for users who are just looking for email and texting, there are more affordable options than those looking for streaming and WiFi calling services.
Bear in mind, most luxury and upper premium cruise lines offer basic WiFi packages and some will ask you to pay extra for a faster connection.
Before you set sail, consider what you will be using the WiFi for. Some cruise companies like Norwegian Cruise Line offer social media plans for those looking to post updates on their holiday.
Another thing to consider is how many devices are you bringing onboard? Are you bringing a smartphone, laptop and tablet? Many cruise lines allow you to use one-plan across multiple devices as long as you are logged in to one at a time.
Carnival Cruises offers three different options for internet access, each at different price points. You can grab the Social WiFi Plan, which starts at $15.30 per day, and will get one user access to social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp, Snapchat and so on.
If you want a bit more varied internet access, the Value WiFi plan starts from $17.85 and will get you access to most websites and general internet access, however, it won’t support video calling and streaming services like Spotify or Netflix.
If you want access to streaming and more, you can opt for the Premium Wi-Fi plan which starts from $21.25 per day and will support streaming and offer internet access up to three times after than the value plan. If you want to purchase an internet package, you’ll have to purchase it online and can grab it up at 11:59PM EST the day before you sail.
Celebrities basic WiFi package starts at $20 per day, but there are limitations and you won’t be able to email large files, use streaming platforms or share photos and videos on social media. To do any of the above you’ll have to upgrade to the premium WiFi package at $35 per day.
Cunard offers its essential internet plan which includes web browsing, email, music streaming, and social media for USD$18(AUD$25). If you’d rather opt for the premium internet plan which also includes video streaming and has a faster connection, you’ll need to fork out USD$24(AUD$34).
Holland America has three internet packages available, starting from USD$10(AUD$14), which earns you access to social media networks. Increasing that to USD$15USD(AUD$22) will also get you access to web surfing and email and then for USD$20(AUD$28) you can add audio and video streaming to your package, allowing you to watch Netflix, listen to podcasts, and so on.
Norwegian Cruise Line
NCL charges USD$25 (AUD$36) per devices per day for unlimited internet access (minus streaming), with lower rates for longer cruises and adding more devices to the plan. However, booking with their ‘free at sea’ promotion at the moment, which is available for the majority of cruises, will include free Wi-Fi.
Premium WiFi packages start from USD$35 (AUD$50) per device per day, this adds streaming to your package.
Oceania Cruises offers free and unlimited access via Wavenet WiFi. Guests can log on to the internet throughout the ship including in their staterooms or suites as well as public spaces and outdoor areas. They can also use the computers at the [email protected] Center onboard their ships.
One login is provided per cabin for use on one device at a time. Plans that include access for additional devices can be purchased on the ship and guests can upgrade to streaming services for movies or music at a cost of USD$9.99 per day.
P&O Cruises Australia
P&O has three different internet packages available. All of their packages are cheaper when pre-purchased, rather than bought while onboard. However, to get this discount you’ll have to buy your package at least four days before your cruise sets off. The Social package starts from $9 a day with access to social media platforms, rising to $12 per day for a social plus talk plan, which also allows for voice and video calls.
If you rather spend $15 a day, you’ll have comprehensive internet access, including video streaming services and access to a range of popular newspapers such as The Daily TelegraphCourier Mail, and Herald Sun.
Ponant offers free WiFi access on all of their ships, and there are also generally computers available to use in the recreational areas. As with many expedition lines, you can expect WiFi connection to become particularly spotty in remote regions, rough seas or other difficult circumstances.
Regent Seven Seas
Regent Seven Seas offers complimentary unlimited WiFi. However, websites and apps that use higher bandwidth such as Youtube and Netflix aren’t included in this. You can pay for increased streaming services for USD$9.99 ($14AUD) per device per day.
Although higher suite categories and members of the Seven Seas Society may receive access for an increased number of devices.
Royal Caribbean’s VOOM internet claims to be six times faster than any other WiFi at sea, since Royal Caribbean linked up with SpaceX’s Starlink in a mission to improve connectivity at sea.
While prices can vary from cruise to cruise, generally the basic internet package ‘Voom Surf Voyage Package’ is $12.99 per day and will get you everything you need except won’t support streaming. For added streaming, you can pay another $5 per day. It should be noted these prices are per device, rather than per person. Meaning, for example if you want connectivity on both your phone and laptop, you’ll need to pay double.
Silversea has complimentary standard internet access in Vista and Verandah suites, while premium WiFi is complimentary for guests booked in medallion, Silver, Royal, Grand and Owner’s Suites. The level of internet on their expedition ships though is determined by the suite category except for the Silver Origin where all guests have complimentary WiFi. Those traveling on Silversea’s full World Cruises of Grand Voyages also have access to complimentary premium access for the entire sailing.
On all voyages across both internet plans, the WiFi is unlimited for two devices used at the same time. There is a cost fo an additional device on the standard WiFi plan.
Seabourn voyages include unlimited WiFi access for one device per guest, with access to web browsing, email and social media. However, if you want video streaming and video calls you’ll have to upgrade to the Stream WiFi package, which offers extended access for up to four devices per guest. Prices may vary but it should cost around USD$20(AUD$28.70) per day.
All Viking ocean ships have free WiFi, with the option of connecting via your own device or using computers in the business lounge. While Viking asks that you limit large downloads and that WiFi connection may vary based on terrain and weather, the connection uses a VSAT satellite terminal, generally allowing for fast WiFi across the ship.